Florida sheriff suspended after criticism over school shooting
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday suspended the local sheriff criticized for the police response to last year’s mass shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
FILE PHOTO: Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks before the start of a CNN town hall meeting at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool/File Photo
DeSantis said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel showed leadership failures in the shooting that left 14 students and three adults dead at the hands of a lone gunman on Feb. 14, 2018.
“The massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the sheriff’s department,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Fort Lauderdale.
In a report released last week, a state-appointed commission identified multiple failings in Israel’s agency’s response to the shooting.
Israel, a Democrat, has served as the elected sheriff of the agency with 5,800 employees since 2013. Despite criticism of the shooting response, he has said he would continue to serve in his elected capacity, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
DeSantis, a Republican elected to the office in November and sworn in earlier this week, criticized the sheriff during his campaign and had signaled that he would have likely removed Israel from office.
Some parents of students at the high school have criticized Israel and called for his removal.
Some Broward County sheriff’s deputies held back too long as shots were fired at the school in the massacre, instead of rushing toward the gunfire, according to a 439-page report released last week by a state-appointed commission.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office training on active shooters was inadequate, according to the report, which also recommended arming teachers and spending more on school security and mental health to prevent similar mass shootings.
“My daughter would have lived if somebody could have just given her one more second,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among the mass shooting victims.
Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Tom Brown